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Ferguson Sees Peaceful Protests The Night After Police Were Shot

A prayer vigil went off without violence on Thursday evening, one night after a 41-year-old officer was shot in the shoulder and a 32-year-old was shot in the face during a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department. BuzzFeed News reporter Jim Dalrymple II is in Ferguson.

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  • Two police officers were shot in Ferguson early Thursday morning during a protest after the police chief announced his resignation.
  • The officers, one from the St. Louis County Police force and the other from the Webster Groves department, have been released from the hospital.
  • No one is in custody for the shootings.
  • St. Louis County Chief of Police Jon Belmar said he believed the gunman has "an unfortunate association with" the protests and called it an "ambush." Some protesters said the shooter was not one of them.
  • Demonstrators held a candlelight vigil Thursday before staging another protest outside police headquarters. Both events were peaceful.
  • President Obama addressed the shooting on Jimmy Kimmel Live, saying there was "no excuse for criminal acts."

Updates

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Protests outside police headquarters and a candlelight vigil in Ferguson were peaceful on Thursday evening, one day after two police officers were shot.

Dozens of people held a candlelight vigil Thursday evening for the two officers wounded by gunfire outside the Ferguson Police Department just hours earlier.

As the AP reported:

A larger crowd of about 200 protesters gathered later outside the police department, but the scene was a marked contrast to the previous night, when fights broke out before the shootings.

"We'll not be derailed in the pursuit of justice by anybody or anything that wants to get in our way," said the Rev. Traci Blackmon, a member of the state's Ferguson Commission who led the prayer vigil at a public plaza in downtown Ferguson near the police department. "We refuse to stop."

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Officers from the St. Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol were summoned to bolster security but largely stood idle in the distance. The protesters had largely disbanded by 11:30 p.m. No arrests were made.

#UPDATE: Biggest difference in #Ferguson tonight, @stlcountypd are standing BEHIND SUVs, not along street.

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Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live Thursday in Los Angeles, President Obama called for the arrest of the "criminals" who shot the two officers in Ferguson.

"There's no excuse for criminal acts. Whoever fired those shots shouldn't detract from the issue. They're criminals," Obama said, according to the White House pool report. "They need to be arrested. And then what we need to do is make sure that like-minded, good-spirited people on both sides, law enforcement who have a terrifically tough job, and people who understand they don't want to be stopped and harassed because of their race, that we're able to work together to try and come up with some good answers."

Obama also offered his prayers to the wounded officers and their families.

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The estimate appeared to bolster reports of some protesters in a parking lot that the shots came from behind them.

Reporters at the scene, meanwhile, looked at what may have been the shooter's vantage point.

This is the view the shooter would have had.

Police with flashlights were searching this front yard for shell casings last night. #Ferguson PD is down the street.

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A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of the Ferguson shooter.

The reward is being offered by the St. Louis Regional CrimeStoppers — the second reward made available since two officers were injured in a shooting during a protest outside Ferguson police headquarters.

Reps. Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver, both Democrats who represent Missouri, have also offered a $3,000 reward.

The reward will be given to "the first person that contacts CrimeStoppers with the information that leads police to arrest."

The St. Louis Regional CrimeStoppers is offering a Reward of Up To $10,000.00 for information leading to the... http://t.co/6l2HaGO2jV

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Questions remained Thursday about who shot the two officers in what St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described as an ambush.

View this video on YouTube

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Belmar said earlier in the day that the unidentified shooter was north or northwest of police, across the street and "embedded" with protesters. Several people in the crowd of protesters, however, said the gunfire did not come from their group and that the shooter was possibly behind them.

Though video captured the moment of gunfire, that evidence alone shed little light on the shooting. Forensic firearm expert Rocky Edwards told BuzzFeed News that he could not draw any conclusions on what type of firearm was used or how far it was fired from police due to the quality of the video.

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Multiple news outlets reported three people were detained and questioned in connection to the shooting, but were released without any charges.

The three residents told The Guardian they were handcuffed by St. Louis County officers during a dawn raid at their home.

Lamont Underwood and Iresha Turner told the newspaper they were at the protest when shots rang out, and fled the area just as many other protestors did.

They denied having anything to do with the shooting.

The Guardian also identified Martez Little as one of the people detained early Thursday.

Turner also said a pistol that was kept in the home's attic for self-defense was taken by officers.

"I feel disrespected," Underwood told The Guardian. "I kept telling them I didn't know anything about who shot the cop. Eventually they said they believed me."

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Gov. Jay Nixon traveled to Ferguson Thursday to receive a briefing on the situation from St. Louis County Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

In the wake of the shooting, and a request by the St. Louis County Police Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol would be sending additional officers to the city Thursday night, according to a statement released by Nixon's office.

"I ask Missourians to join me in calling for calm in the wake of the cowardly and reprehensible ambush of two police officers who were acting to protect the public," Nixon said.

Just saw @GovJayNixon's motorcade roll quietly thorough #Ferguson on Florissant Road.

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Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed News

An aerial map shows the area where two police officers were shot early Thursday during a protest outside the station in Ferguson, Missouri. Police continue to search for the shooter and investigate from where the gun was fired.

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Congressmen Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver offer $3k reward for info on person who shot officers in Ferguson

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St. Louis County Police and Missouri State Highway Patrol will take control of policing Ferguson tonight.

Full release from the St. Louis County Police:

Effective this evening at 6:00 PM, the St. Louis County Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol will assume command of the security detail regarding protests in the City of Ferguson.

The Honorable James Knowles, Mayor of the City of Ferguson, is aware that the St. Louis County Police Department along with Missouri State Highway Patrol will assume command of the security detail in the City of Ferguson regarding protests until further notice.

The Ferguson Police Department has been responsible for commanding the detail after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's State of Emergency expired in December. These responsibilities once again transition to the St. Louis County Police Department as well as the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The St. Louis County Police Department is not assuming routine policing services in the City of Ferguson, as these responsibilities are still in the hands of the Ferguson Police Department.
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City of Ferguson statement on police shootings

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President Obama sends tweets on Ferguson police shooting.

Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in MO. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together. –bo

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The family of slain Ferguson teenager Michael Brown Jr. released a statement on last night's police shooting:

"The family of Michael Brown, Jr. condemns this morning's senseless shooting of two Ferguson police officers.

We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot and will not be tolerated.

We specifically denounce the actions of stand-alone agitators who unsuccessfully attempt to derail the otherwise peaceful and non-violent movement that has emerged throughout this nation to confront police brutality and to forward the cause of equality under the law for all.

We must work together to bring peace to our communities.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the officers injured during this morning's shooting and their families."
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Amateur video captured from the scene last night appears to show the moment the two cops were shot.

View this video on YouTube

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St. Louis County Police confirm that several people have been brought in for questioning in the Ferguson police shooting. Spokesperson cannot say how many individuals have been questioned at this time, but no one has been arrested.

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Full press conference with Chief Jon Belmar on the investigation of the shooting. Belmar said he believes "there was an unfortunate association with that gathering" in Ferguson last night.

View this video on YouTube

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St. Louis County Police confirmed that the two officers have been treated and released from Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

St. Louis County Police / Via Facebook: permalink.php

Photos collected at the scene from the St. Louis County Police Crime Scene Unit where two police officers were shot.

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Gov. Jay Nixon released the following statement:

.@GovJayNixon statement on the shooting of two officers in #Ferguson last night:

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Attorney General Eric Holder released the following statement:

"This heinous assault on two brave law enforcement officers was inexcusable and repugnant. I condemn violence against any public safety officials in the strongest terms, and the Department of Justice will never accept any threats or violence directed at those who serve and protect our communities—from this cowardly action, to the killing of an officer in Philadelphia last week while he was buying a game for his son, to the tragic loss of a Deputy U.S. Marshal in the line of duty in Louisiana earlier this week. Such senseless acts of violence threaten the very reforms that nonviolent protesters in Ferguson and around the country have been working towards for the past several months. We wish these injured officers a full and speedy recovery. We stand ready to offer any possible aid to an investigation into this incident, including the department's full range of investigative resources. And we will continue to stand unequivocally against all acts of violence against cops whenever and wherever they occur."

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"Both officers are good guys," Belmar said. "I'm proud of them."

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The only gunfire was the incident where the officers were struck.

"This is really an ambush. You can't see it coming. You're basically defenseless. That is something very difficult to guard against when you have officers standing in a large group."

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"It was pretty rowdy," he said of the protests, adding that he did not expect the night to go as it did. "There was agitation in the crowd."

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Belmar said he doesn't know if there will be more protests tonight, but he plans to send officers to the Ferguson Police Department.

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No one is in custody for the shooting yet, Belmar said. Finding the individuals involved is the department's top priority.

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Three people were arrested in the protests last night in Ferguson. By midnight, most of the protesters had dispersed, St. Louis County Chief of Police Jon Belmar said.

The crowd was a lot smaller when the two officers were shot.

"Fortunately with both officers, we don't have any remarkable long-term injuries," Belmar said. "By God's grace we didn't lose two officers last night."

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Here's the media scene at the before the press conference:

Media packed together, waiting for @stlcountypd news conf. re: officers shot in #Ferguson @kmov

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United States Sen. Claire McCaskill, from Missouri, tweeted this earlier today:

There is no place for criminal violence in the process of healing and reform. Prayers for the officers and their families. #Ferguson

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St. Louis County Chief of Police Jon Belmar will hold a press conference in reference to two policeman who sustained gunshot wounds last night in front of the Ferguson Police Department. The press conference will be held at 9:00 AM at St. Louis County Police Headquarters located at 7900 Forsyth, Clayton, MO 63105, on the first floor in the police board room.
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Post-Dispatch photographer was on scene when #Ferguson officer was shot via @LaurieSkrivan http://t.co/jQxmIqzCZ3

Two police officers were shot early Thursday morning during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, authorities said.

The injuries are not life threatening, according to a statement issued by the St. Louis County Police Department early Thursday.

The county police confirmed the shooting to BuzzFeed News in an email early Thursday morning. Chief Jon Belmar later said at a news conference that a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder. A 32-year-old officer from Webster Groves was shot in the face.

Both officers were conscious and being treated for their injuries at a nearby hospital, Belmar said. He did not provide details on their conditions, but added that "those are very serious gunshot injuries."

The shootings happened as the officers stood together in front of the Ferguson Police Department on S. Florissant Road. Belmar said at least three shots came from the "north, northwest," across the street. Police did not know Thursday morning who opened fire, but when asked if the shots came from protesters, Belmar replied that "somehow they were embedded in that group of folks."

He added that based on the bullet trajectories, the shooter appears to have targeted the police.

"These police officers were standing there and they were shot, just because they were police officers," Belmar said. "I would have to make an assumption that these shots were directed exactly at my police officers."

The two officers have not been identified. The St. Louis County officer is a 14-year veteran of law enforcement, while the Webster Groves officer is a seven-year veteran. Police previously said the Webster Groves officer was a five-year veteran.

Jennifer Arvin, a spokesperson for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, told BuzzFeed News they were treating gunshot victims early Thursday morning, but would not identify them.

In a video captured during the shooting, the sound of gunfire can be heard, followed by yelling:

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

Police take cover after two cops were shot in front of Ferguson PD on Thursday, March 12, 2015. Pic- @LaurieSkrivan

Numerous witnesses and journalists at the protest also reported hearing gunfire and seeing officers hit.

vine.co

Ferguson police got shot in front of me

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Carrying the officer away and guns drawn. #ferguson | pic via @wyze43 | @NewsRevo

The shootings happened after Ferguson's police chief, Thomas Jackson, resigned on Wednesday. Protesters had gathered to call for further change in the city. Police took several people into custody during the protest.

Protesters have called for Jackson's ouster for months. Some at the protest Wednesday also called on Mayor Knowles to resign.

Jackson's resignation came just a day after city manager John Shaw was ousted in what the city described as a "mutual separation." A city judge, court clerk, and two police officers all have also been either fired or resigned in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report on racism within Ferguson law enforcement.